2. Nuclear-only deals do not solve the strategic issues. Trump exited the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, because it suffered from a number of fatal flaws, including its sole focus on the nuclear issue to the exclusion of Iran’s other problems (terrorism, human rights, missiles, regional aspirations). The Trump administration is now dealing with the failure of Obama’s aspirational foreign policy, which was supposed to moderate the hard-line clerics who really run Iran. A deal with North Korea that focuses only on its nuclear program will leave Pyongyang’s military threat intact, including its missile force and chemical and biological weapons capabilities. This threat will need to be addressed, and so will the North’s proliferation and cyber activities, and its abhorrent treatment of its own citizens. While the end of the North’s nuclear program would be a major accomplishment, it will leave other challenges to be overcome.
3. Insist on the Libya model of denuclearization. The sequencing of denuclearization will show how serious North Korea is about this process. Pyongyang will likely prefer to use Kim Jong Il’s framework, where both sides participate in long, drawn-out negotiations. This would allow the North to continue his nuclear weapons program and run out the clock to the U.S. 2020 presidential election. The United States should insist instead on the Libya model for denuclearization: complete, total and near-instantaneous. This will not come cheap; Pyongyang will insist on significant U.S. concessions. But there’s another reason to push for the maximum: Iran is watching Trump’s North Korea dealings, closely, and any precedent set with Kim will be noted in Tehran.
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